Catalyst Community: Extracurriculars-Erica Sprague

The word “community” is defined as a group of people living in the same place or having a particular interest in common. Catalyst Midland has launched a series titled “Catalyst Community” focusing on different communities — sometimes geographic, sometimes a common interest. 
Erica Sprague teaches at Beaverton Junior/Senior High School
This week, we focus on education outside the classroom. Our teacher is Erica Sprague, a science teacher at the junior/senior high school in Beaverton. She just  started her 19th year in education. Erica is a teacher both inside and outside the classroom. She now also has a presence on social media (Facebook) to share home economics ideas. Her goal is to encourage us to practice some of the skills diminishing in our fast moving society.


Hello readers! In a previous column, I talked about my role as an educator and how I am now teaching communication skills explicitly in the classroom. As I wrap my brain around my return to the classroom, I’m thinking about how I can continue to support my students (and my own kids) on their journey to adulthood. Let’s talk about participation in extracurricular activities.

One of the best ways for students to develop interpersonal communication skills is to participate in groups of their peers. School is obviously the best place to get connected with groups, but your community may offer them too. Sports teams are not the only extracurricular groups out there!

The skills they learn in these extracurricular events will serve them later in adulthood in their professional and private lives.
As a parent of three busy kiddos, I sometimes feel pulled in many directions by my kids’ activities. We try to find balance and limit the number of nights per week we are out and about. So why should we make an extra effort to put our kids in clubs, teams and groups, when it seems so time consuming and difficult (for the parents)? It does require a sacrifice on the part of the parent/guardian, grandparents, etc. There is a time, and sometimes monetary investment in involvement in extracurricular groups, but in my opinion, they can provide returns that have no monetary value.

Children need an opportunity to develop relationships with their peers outside of the classroom walls and outside of the home. Nothing prepares them for adulthood better than having the chance to be independent and work with others to develop communication skills. When you allow your child to participate in a group of their choosing, with people that they have a connection with, they can truly blossom and develop important skills. Sports teams can develop commitment, perseverance and good sportsmanship, but so can 4H clubs, robotics, pep bands and church youth groups. 

We are all busy and time is precious. Many parents have to work and it can be easy to allow our kids to come home from school and bury themselves in phones, computers or TV. I know! My kids would rather do just that most days. I have to push and nudge my own children to broaden their horizons, meet new people and develop new interests in groups. The skills they learn in these extracurricular events will serve them later in adulthood in their professional and private lives.

As we head back to school this fall, take a moment to ask your student if there are any new groups or clubs that are offered in your district or community that they might like to join! There is something for everyone out there! As a teacher, I will be introducing my students to the many opportunities that our school offers and encouraging them to get involved!